Sotheby`s to sell important Asian archival documents

Updated: Feb 18, 2013, 09:52 AM IST

New Delhi: A collection of illustrated 19th century travel documents, watercolours and manuscripts - some of which have never been published before - will go under the hammer Feb 28 at Sotheby`s in London, the auction house said Thursday.

The collectibles, expected to raise in excess of 1.5 million pounds, have been acquired from a private collector who had collected heritage travel and plate books in a variety of media including hand coloured prints, photography, watercolour and sketches.

The collection contains works from the library of Beriah Botfield (Longleat), believed to be one of the greatest book collectors of the 19th century, and from the collection of Sefik Atabey, who owned one of the greatest archives of the Ottoman Empire.

Richard Fattorini, the director of Sotheby`s department of books and manuscripts said the "auction represented a wonderful opportunity to acquire some of the very best books in this field, since collections of this quality so rarely come to the market".

"Not only are there editions regarded as the most important in their category and media by the most historically significant artists and writers, but many are also magnificently bound, in superb condition and in many cases have significant provenances," Fattorini said.

The books on sale include a rare volume of British Raj painters and chroniclers Thomas and William Daniell`s "Oriental Sceneries (1795-1807)" estimated at 250,000 pounds.

Thomas Daniell and nephew Wiliam spent nine years in India between 1785 to 1784 to make "studies, sketches and drawings of the country`s scenery, architecture and antiquities". They spent another 13 years to make "remarkably accurate aquatints". The well-bound collection had been previously in the collection of the Earl of Bradford.

A collection of letters, drawings, letters and photographs by James Emerson Tennet about the history of Ceylon, one of the most important sources of archival material on 19th century Ceylon, will go under the hammer as well.